Debating Between Vinyl vs. Linoleum Floors? How To Choose?

If you’re researching new flooring options for your home renovation or new construction project, I bet vinyl and linoleum are two materials you’re considering. And no wonder – they both offer durable, affordable, low-maintenance floors perfect for active families.

But vinyl and linoleum have some distinct differences too. In this guide, I’ll compare the pros and cons of each so you can weigh your options and decide which is right for your needs. I’ve been down this road while choosing new floors for my own home, so I’m happy to share everything I’ve learned!

vinyl flooring


Vinyl Floors

A Budget-Friendly Chameleon

Vinyl has become massively popular in recent years, and for good reason. It provides a wide range of benefits that appeal to homeowners:

vinyl flooring structure

Huge Range of Looks —— One of vinyl’s biggest assets is its versatility. Rigid luxury vinyl planks and tiles realistically mimic natural materials like hardwood and stone. I was seriously impressed by some vinyl samples replicating weathered oak – you’d swear it was real wood! And vinyl doesn’t just imitate wood grains. It can look like barnwood, concrete, Mediterranean tile, and way more. Vinyl sheet comes in solid colors or abstract patterns to match any style.

Affordable Pricing —— Even the highest quality vinyl costs a fraction of real hardwood or luxury tile. I priced out some vinyl planks that mimicked the elegant look of travertine for under $5 per square foot. The same look in natural stone would have cost 4-5 times more! Vinyl starts at $1-2 per square foot on the low end. It lets you get a seriously upscale look without the price tag.

Waterproof —— Vinyl’s 100% waterproof construction is a major advantage for kitchens, bathrooms, basements and other damp areas. Daily spills, flooding, or leaks don’t phase vinyl floors like they would ruin hardwood or laminates. As a pet owner myself, it’s also reassuring vinyl can stand up to ‘accidents’ from furry friends.

Kid and Pet-Friendly —— Speaking of pets, active families will appreciate vinyl’s durability and resilience. It stands up well to scratches, scuffs, dents and heavy traffic from kids and animals in the home. It doesn’t mar easily or show damage over time. Vinyl provides a worry-free flooring solution for busy households.

Straightforward Installation —— Vinyl sheet and luxury vinyl tiles float over your existing floor or subfloor, making installation straightforward either as a DIY or professional job. Peel-and-stick vinyl tiles are even easier – just stick them down! No need to remove old flooring or do intensive subfloor prepping. Ease of installation is a major perk.

Soft and Warm Underfoot —— Vinyl absorbs sound and offers a softer, warmer feel underfoot than tiles or hardwoods. The slight cushioning makes it comfortable whether you’re standing doing kitchen chores or playing with the kids. No cold feet on chilly mornings!

As you can see, vinyl flooring offers a lot of advantages that explain its current popularity. It lets you create almost any look imaginable at very wallet-friendly prices. Just be aware of a couple downsides:

  • Vinyl isn’t quite as eco-friendly as other options, though it is improving on that front. Seek out recycled or low-VOC vinyl.
  • The installation adhesives can emit VOCs initially. Proper ventilation helps minimize this health concern.

But overall, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners love vinyl for attractive, durable and affordable new floors these days!


Linoleum Floors

– A Green Flooring Alternative

While vinyl steals the spotlight, linoleum flooring shouldn’t be overlooked. Offering its own set of benefits, linoleum is reemerging as a popular “green” flooring choice:

Linoleum Flooring structure


Made from Natural Materials —— Here’s what really sets linoleum apart: it’s comprised mostly of renewable natural ingredients like linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour and limestone. No synthetic materials like vinyl. This makes linoleum much better for the environment since it doesn’t rely on petroleum sources.

Naturally Antibacterial —— The natural components of linoleum inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. This natural resistance to microbes is a big perk for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas needing sanitary floors. These antimicrobial properties minimize odors too.

Hypoallergenic —— For households with allergies or chemical sensitivities, linoleum’s natural construction can provide much-needed relief that synthetic options like vinyl can’t. It gives off no VOCs and won’t trigger allergies or asthma flare-ups.

Attractive Marbled Effects —— Granted, linoleum doesn’t mimic wood and tile nearly as realistically as vinyl. But it has an artistic marbled appeal all its own. I appreciate the retro vibe you can create with fun, vintage-inspired linoleum patterns. It works well in eclectic or cottage style spaces.

Naturally Soft and Quiet —— Walking and standing on linoleum feels cushioned underfoot, while the resilience absorbs noise and echo very effectively. Linoleum offers comfort while attenuating sound quite well compared to hard surfaces.

Long-Lasting When Properly Installed —— Linoleum sheets need to be professionally installed and all seams completely sealed to achieve longevity. But once properly set up, a linoleum floor should provide decades of wear in residential spaces. Proper care is key.


Linoleum does have a few disadvantages to weigh – it’s less water-resistant than vinyl and the installation is trickier. But if you want a flooring material aligned with your green values, linoleum deserves strong consideration.


Key Differences Between Vinyl And Linoleum Floors

To recap, here are the major ways vinyl and linoleum floors differ when comparing:

  • Cost —— Vinyl is the more budget-friendly choice, starting under $3/square foot. Linoleum costs $5-6/square foot on average.
  • Looks —— Vinyl excels at recreating wood, tile and stone finishes. Linoleum has basic colors and marbled patterns.
  • Waterproofing —— Vinyl is 100% waterproof. Linoleum needs sealing to avoid water damage.
  • Installation —— Vinyl clicks or peels/sticks into place easily. Linoleum requires professional installation.
  • Green Factor —— Linoleum wins for made from renewable materials. But vinyl is improving its eco-credentials too.
  • Health Factors —— Linoleum emits no VOCs, making it better for indoor air quality. Low-VOC vinyl options are now available.
  • Longevity —— Both can last for decades if properly cared for. Vinyl may be a bit more forgiving of heavy use.
  • Noise Reduction —— Linoleum absorbs sound better, but vinyl also dampens noise effectively.

As you can see, vinyl and linoleum each have their pros and cons. Keep these key differences in mind as you weigh your options.



Deciding Between Vinyl And Linoleum Floors

So, when trying to choose between vinyl and linoleum, how do you decide which is right for your home? Here are some tips:

  • What’s your budget? Vinyl provides more affordable options starting under $3 per square foot installed.
  • Do you prefer vinyl’s realistic wood and tile looks or linoleum’s retro marbled patterns?
  • Is sound absorption a priority? Linoleum wins for dampening noise.
  • Do you need a totally waterproof floor? Vinyl is the way to go.
  • Are you environmentally-minded and want renewable materials? Consider linoleum.
  • Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities?Linoleum may provide healthier indoor air quality.
  • Do you want DIY-friendly installation? Vinyl’s click or peel/stick options are easiest to install.



Take your own lifestyle, needs and priorities into account as you weigh your choice. Vinyl makes sense for many homeowners who want beautiful floors on a budget. But linoleum offers its own set of perks.

Either way, investing in quality materials and professional installation when possible will ensure your floors look fantastic for years before it’s time to remodel again!

I hope this guide has helped break down the vinyl vs. linoleum decision and provided useful insights to inform your choice. Let me know if any other questions come up as you get closer to that exciting flooring purchase!

Scroll to Top